Campus Update: Coronavirus

Updated Feb 12, 2020, 15:44:00 . This is an evolving situation and we will provide updates on this page as more information becomes available.

Rutgers Activities

Rutgers University has been carefully monitoring the reports and updated guidance coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH). As of this page's last update (see timestamp above), New Jersey does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19.

While there are no suspected cases at Rutgers, we are coordinating response plans with the appropriate agencies and our health services teams have already put measures into place to screen symptoms and establish safeguards in the event that a Rutgers community member is identified with COVID-19. We are working across the University to assist our students who are or may be affected by this situation and who have concerns related to courses, finances, housing, dining, and health. The university has readied equipment and circulated guidance to appropriate personnel regarding the handling of individuals and materials, and Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety has provided an information system that will enable easy health monitoring of individuals in need. The university’s Emergency Management teams have prepared facilities in the event that a Rutgers community member needs to be isolated - which we hope will not be necessary. Additionally, we are providing information about COVID-19 and the flu to our students, faculty, and staff—including direct communication with individuals that we know may have traveled from the Wuhan region in China. In accordance with the CDC’s guidelines, the university is encouraging the campus community to be mindful of symptoms and to seek medical care immediately if they experience symptoms following possible exposure to the flu virus or COVID-19.

Even as we take precautions, it is important to remember that the likelihood that any particular individual is infected with the coronavirus is very low. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey at this time. We continue to emphasize the importance of avoiding assumptions about who may or may not have come into contact with someone carrying the virus based on their identity. Rutgers’ diversity is one of its greatest strengths and we urge all members of the campus community to continue cultivating an environment free from discrimination and harassment.

Travel Recommendations

Consistent with federal advisories, Rutgers is restricting all travel to China—this includes travel for university business such as (but not limited to) teaching, study abroad, conferences, presentations, internships, research, recruiting, and athletic competitions. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other areas in Hubei Province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport.

 

About Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold or more severe illnesses such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China had not been previously detected in humans or animals and much is still unknown about it. It is thought that initial patients in Wuhan City may have come into contact with the virus from an animal at a seafood and animal market. Subsequently, it appears that person-to-person spread is occurring. On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization named the virus COVID-19, previous communications from Rutgers, the CDC and NJDOH have referenced the virus as 2019-nCoV.

For people who think they may have been exposed to the new coronavirus, because of travel to Wuhan City, China or close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19 please be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The World Health Organization determined that the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has updated its travel advisory to “Do Not Travel” to China. The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services declared the coronavirus a public health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the U.S. government would quarantine for two weeks U.S. citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

If you suspect an infection please call ahead so that your primary care provider or emergency room can be prepared for your arrival. Up-to-date information about the coronavirus can be found on the CDC website.

 

What To Do

The CDC has established the following risk categories dependent on exposure to help guide optimal public health management of people following potential COVID-19 exposure. At this time, the majority of the general American public are unlikely to be exposed to this virus and the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. The following risk levels apply to travel-associated and community settings. These categories should be considered interim and subject to change.

High Risk

  • Living in the same household as, being an intimate partner of, or providing care in a non health care setting (such as a home) for a person with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection without using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation
    • The same risk assessment applies for the above-listed exposures to a person diagnosed clinically with COVID-19 infection outside of the United States who did not have laboratory testing.
  • Travel from Hubei Province, China

Medium Risk

  • Close contact with a person with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection, and not having any exposures that meet a high-risk definition.
    • The same risk assessment applies for close contact with a person diagnosed clinically with COVID-19 infection outside of the United States who did not have laboratory testing.
    • On an aircraft, being seated within 6 feet (two meters) of a traveler with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection; this distance correlates approximately with 2 seats in each direction.
  • Living in the same household as, an intimate partner of, or caring for a person in a non health care setting (such as a home) to a person with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection while consistently using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation
  • Travel from mainland China outside Hubei Province AND not having any exposures that meet a high-risk definition

Low Risk

  • Being in the same indoor environment (e.g., a classroom, a hospital waiting room) as a person with symptomatic confirmed 2019-nCoV infection for a prolonged period of time but not meeting the definition of close contact
  • On an aircraft, being seated within two rows of a traveler with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection but not within 6 feet (2 meters) AND not having any exposures that meet a medium- or a high-risk definition

No Identifiable Risk

  • Interactions with a person with symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 infection that do not meet any of the high-, medium- or low-risk conditions above, such as walking by the person or being briefly in the same room.

 

If you are experiencing symptoms following possible exposure to COVID-19, seek medical care as soon as possible. Remember to call ahead and tell the healthcare provider’s office about your recent travel, symptoms, and concern. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel.

This year it is especially important to get the flu vaccine as many of the symptoms of the flu (including fever and cough) are the same as those of the newly reported coronavirus. The flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of contracting the flu as well as mitigate its symptoms, recover faster, and curtail its spread. If you have not received a flu shot, please do so soon.

Rutgers Students: To make an appointment with Rutgers Student Health

Rutgers Employees

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms following possible exposure to the flu virus or COVID-19, seek medical care as soon as possible. Remember to call ahead and tell the healthcare provider’s office about your recent travel and symptoms. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel.

Additionally, you should contact the Occupational Health office for your campus/school if you have traveled to the United States from China between January 20 and February 2, AND meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have been in direct contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • You worked as laboratory staff within a healthcare facility that was treating patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • You worked as laboratory staff in a research laboratory setting with confirmed COVID-19 cases while not wearing personal protective equipment or other standard biosafety precautions in place

Occupational Health Offices by location:

 

Prevention

Important steps you can take to prevent contracting or spreading viruses include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve while coughing and sneezing
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer on hands if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Don't share foods, utensils, e-cigarettes, etc.
  • Clean commonly touched objects and surfaces regularly
  • Stay home from class/work if you are symptomatic

 

FAQs

What is Rutgers doing to address the issue?

While there are no suspected cases at Rutgers, we are closely monitoring reports from state, regional, national and international health agencies concerning COVID-19, and are coordinating response plans with the appropriate agencies. Our health services teams have already put measures into place to screen symptoms and establish safeguards in the event that a Rutgers community member is identified with COVID-19. We are working across the University to assist our students who are or may be affected by this situation and who have concerns related to courses, finances, housing, dining, and health. The University has readied equipment and circulated guidance to appropriate personnel regarding the handling of individuals and materials, and Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety has provided an information system that will enable easy health monitoring of individuals in need. The University’s Emergency Management teams have prepared facilities in the event that a Rutgers community member needs to be isolated - which we hope will not be necessary. Additionally, we are providing information about coronavirus and the flu to our students, faculty, and staff—including direct communication with individuals that we know may have traveled from the Wuhan region in China. In accordance with the CDC’s guidelines, the university is encouraging the campus community to be mindful of symptoms and to seek medical care immediately if they experience symptoms following possible exposure to the flu virus or COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of the virus appear to be consistent with those of a respiratory illness: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How is COVID-19 treated?

There is no specific treatment for this virus at this time other than supportive care as needed.

How is COVID-19 spread?

The CDC continues to believe that the risk to the general public in the United States remains low and at this time there appears to be limited person-to-person close contact spread. 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands often, staying home from work or school if you are feeling unwell, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and get your flu shot.

What should I do if I recently traveled to China and feel sick when I get home?

Please review the CDC's guidance for Risk Assessment on their website and listed above on this page. If you are experiencing symptoms and fall into the no-risk category you should seek routine medical care as needed. 

If you fall into one of the low, medium or high risk categories, you should:

  • Seek medical advice right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others
  • Don’t travel while sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you are a student please contact your student health office as soon as possible so that we can accurately assess your risk and provide you with individual guidance. If you are a faculty member or staff please contact the Occupational Health office for your campus/school. 

International travelers arriving in the United States after 5 pm (EST) on February 2, 2020, will receive advice about quarantine at the border.

What should I do if I recently traveled to China and I currently feel fine?

Please review the CDC's guidance for Risk Assessment on their website and listed above on this page. If you are NOT experiencing symptoms and fall into one of the medium, low, or no risk categories, you should self-monitor for symptoms and consider limiting public activities and long-distance travel. 

If you are NOT experiencing symptoms and fall into the high risk category you should:

  • Seek medical advice right away.
  • Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others
  • Don’t travel while sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.  

If you are a student please contact your student health office as soon as possible so that we can accurately assess your risk and provide you with individual guidance. If you are a faculty member or staff please contact the Occupational Health office for your campus/school. 

International travelers arriving in the United States after 5 pm (EST) on February 2, 2020, will receive advice about quarantine at the border.

What will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the campus community?

If a case of the COVID-19 is confirmed the university will follow NJDOH protocols for containment and those who have had close contact with the patient will be contacted and monitored by the appropriate health agency with the support of the university.

Do university events or gatherings need to be canceled?

At this time, there is no need to cancel meetings or social events. There are no cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, and there are no restrictions on public gatherings. Students and university employees are reminded that part of good respiratory hygiene is staying home from events when they are ill.

What if my studies are impacted by the travel restrictions?

Students whose studies may have been interrupted by the travel restrictions related to COVID-19 should contact the Rutgers Global International Student & Scholar Services unit at 848-932-7015 with questions.

Have more questions?

New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at Rutgers is serving as the NJDOH COVID-19 Call Center—call the hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for assistance in multiple languages and 24 hours a day.

RU-info is the main information and referral service at Rutgers University.

Coronavirus Additional Resources